Are you a member? If you have been considering joining the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, now is the time to make that investment in your business and community. If you join before July 1st, you will receive a free business listing in Hancock Today, a relocation and visitors magazine and Buyer’s Guide of Chamber members. This is an annual partnership between the Hancock Chamber and the Sea Coast Echo.
If you are not sure it’s worth your investment to be a member of the largest business organization in Hancock County then ask yourself these questions: Do you believe it is important to promote the social, civic and economic well-being of Hancock County? Do you think there should be a group who focuses on the promotion of industrial, tourism, retail and agricultural businesses?
“If the answers are yes,” said Stephen Schruff, Chamber President with Mississippi Power Company, “then joining this membership organization, comprised of businesses, non-profits and individuals is something you should do.”
For businesses, memberships start at $225. Individuals are also invited to join for only $85 and non-profits are members for only $160.
If you are already a member, why not let others know why you are and invite them to join. How often have you heard people in business say they just don’t have the time to join the Chamber. “For me,” said Nikki Moon of Bay Town Inn, “this is all the more reason to join. The Chamber is working for you whether you have the time to get involved or not.“
What other benefits do you value that the Chamber provides like business referrals for instance. “The Chamber manages an aggressive relocation program to drive sales to member businesses,” said Regan Kane of John McDonald Realty who chairs the committee. Each year, the Chamber and Sea Coast Echo distribute 5,000 copies of the magazine to high traffic retail locations, real estate companies and developers, health care providers, financial institutions, welcome centers, tourist attractions, hotels, economic development agencies, HR professionals, and government offices.
The online business directory and magazine also directs traffic to member business products and/or services. During 2017, the Chamber handled inquiries from 13 states and the website member business directory generated 847,632 referrals. Each member averaged over 1,000 referrals. Attorneys, restaurants, real estate professionals and banks topped the list.
As a member, what problems did the Chamber help you solve? As an example, some of the businesses in Bay St. Louis and Waveland came to the Chamber to talk about ways to increase traffic to their businesses. One of the solutions was to look at ways to drive traffic off Highway 90 and in to the business districts. The solution? Visitor way finding. The Chamber went to work writing a grant to secure funding and forged a plan with the State and local governments to develop a system of signage to drive traffic. In the next few weeks, 16 new visitor way finding signs will be installed throughout the County. Support and funding for this project is provided in part by the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area. The grant is made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and annual Congressional appropriations to the National Park Services that passes funds to National Heritage Area entities.
Businesses in the Kiln wanted to find a way to take advantage of an influx of visitors coming to the Performing Arts Center who are being relocated from Biloxi due to renovations of the Saengar Theatre. Known as the Kiln Business Council of the Hancock Chamber, they forged a plan, working with the Chamber staff, to re-brand the group as the Kiln Chamber, a Division of the Hancock Chamber. This new brand will enhance their image with the marketplace as a credible source of information.
“Research points out consumers are more likely to do business with a company that is a member of their local chamber of commerce,” said Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock Chamber. In fact, Williams says that most consumers (59 percent) think that being active in the local chamber of commerce is an effective business strategy overall.
Membership in the Chamber also increases your visibility in the community through networking opportunities, social media platforms, advertising and event sponsorships. Businesses and individuals also gain a voice in government. Through the Chamber, you will make business contacts to generate more business, acquire customer referrals, and get to know new people to expand your prospect base through Chamber events and programs.
Plans are underway now to establish a presence of the Chamber in Diamondhead with the establishment of a new visitor center. Lazy Magnolia will soon serve as the visitor center for the Kiln. The Ground Zero Museum serves visitors in Waveland and is a fund of the Chamber’s non-profit, the Hancock Community Development Foundation.
The work of the Chamber does not stop here. The Chamber helped the Old Town Merchants Association re-brand this organization and secured a grant for them to produce a new brochure to drive traffic to their businesses. Hot off the press is a new brochure for the Kiln Chamber listing member businesses with a map to guide visitors to businesses and visitor resources. Next up will be the same resource for Chamber member businesses in Diamondhead.
“If a company shows that it’s highly involved in its local chamber, consumers are 12 percent more likely to think that its products stack up better against its competition,” said Williams. The company’s association with the local chamber infers that the company is trustworthy, involved in the community and is an industry leader.
To join the Hancock Chamber to be included in the buyer’s guide, go to: www.hancockchamber.org, call 228-467-9048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To increase your business visibility in the magazine, contact Randy Ponder at the Echo to reserve advertising space at 228-467-5474 or email: email@example.com.